History of Parliamentary Democracy timeline - Houses of History

History of Parliamentary Democracy timeline - Houses of History

This interactive timeline can be used to help students to learn about the key historical moments leading to votes for everyone over the age of 18.

Resources quick links



The timeline spans the history of parliamentary democracy from the 1265 De Montfort Parliament, through the Reform Acts, the introduction of secret ballots, and up to the 1969 law allowing men and women from age 18 to vote.

Time required: 30 minutes plus optional writing activity

Students can


  • Follow an historical chronology of 15 significant moments in the development of democracy from the 13th to the 20st century.
  • Watch a short animation of the ‘Rush on Parliament’ when Suffragettes stormed the Palace of Westminster.
  • Create a project from a template of a newspaper article and add images and quotations collected from the timeline.
  • Take a writing challenge and pen a newspaper article written in 1969 giving the historical background to votes for all.

Learning outcomes

All students should


  • Learn about the achievements of the campaign to get votes for all men and women, including the three Reform Acts.
  • Find out about significant individuals in the history of universal suffrage, including the first black voter (Ignatius Sancho), Suffragettes including Emmeline Pankhurst, and political leaders such as William Gladstone.
  • Understand an historical chronology and, using this, learn about key events in gaining the vote for all.
  • Be able to identify, explain and analyse democratic change through high profile campaigns.


Most students should


  • Evaluate a range of historical sources through images, animations, authoritative articles and links to further information on recommended websites.
  • Understand broader social and political development of campaigning for votes for all from the 13th century.
  • Understand the different histories and changing relationships through time that enabled votes for all men and women to come about.

For teachers, there are more detailed links to the curriculum.

Practical information

  • Houses of History’s Votes for All section requires Flash version 10 or later.
  • You can download this free software and the latest version is: Flash plug-in (link opens in new window).
  • Access the Help screen by clicking the button marked '?' at the top right of the resource.
  • The resource is best viewed with a fast internet connection due to the number of images and animations.


Image credits

Image credits

Picture credits and copyright information for images in the votes for all timeline.

pdf file - 39 KB

Writing challenge: Votes for All

Writing challenge: Votes for All

Challenge your students to step into the shoes of a journalist and report on voting reforms in the UK.

pdf file - 50 KB
PDF Download

Related teaching resources


Women and the Vote timeline - Houses of History


Votes for Women part 1: Stories from Parliament

Parliamentary business